We’ve got you covered with holiday reading- from short stories to memoirs to science fiction and fantasy
Some people use the festival season to buy lovely new clothes, others can’t get enough of the snacks.
Long weekends means more time to finish all the books that you’ve not found a moment for otherwise, and the post-Booker-post-Nobel halo means there’s plenty of new writers to choose from. So here’s some suggestions from recent and upcoming books you have to read in the upcoming months when you’ve had enough of the gujhias, the patakhas and the neighbourhood aunts.
We’d love to add our favourite Patrick Modiano to this list and act worldly wise, but we are only about three pages into our first one, so its early days yet!
The Best Book By An Author We Will Read Everything From
It is hard to pick between Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests and Hillary Mantel’s The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, but if we had to choose just one, we’d pick the latter. In part because she is turning into one of those writers we just cannot resist, and because short stories remain our favourite literary form. And then the title! Ohh, just for that titular story we’d willingly spend money and time to join her for a foray into the 20th century after having laboured with her through the 16th century Cromwell saga for so long!
The Best Upcoming Biography
If fall comes, can personal memoirs be far behind.
We are torn between Naseeruddin Shah‘s truculent And Then One Day (just to hear him gripe about everything!), and Neil Patrick Harris‘ Choose Your Own Autobiography . Between the Oscar hosting job and that creepy turn in Gone Girl, what a year NPH is having! We love the conceit of structuring your autobiography in the form of a choose-your-own-adventure story, and if anyone can do justice to the format it is former Doogie Howser-turned-Barney Stinson- turned Broadway darling.
But the life story we are really looking forward to is Dark Star: The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna. There’s so much violence and pain in that life, that even a halfway competent job will make the story unputdownable. And we’ve always enjoyed Gautam Chintamani’s pop culture journalism. So if he has been given enough access this may just the must-read biography of the year!
The Best Book About An Indian City
Neel Mukherjee’s ode to 1960s Kolkata, The Lives of Others, may have justifiably been shortlisted for the Booker and Avtar Singh’s Necropolis has us captivated, but the book you need to buy is The Smoke is Rising by Mahesh Rao. Ostensibly about Mysore, this book is both heartfelt and clever (the structure alone is a delight!), and it weaves a poignant human story through so many hot button issues that the pundits like to drone about- encroaching globalisation, the impact of large corporates, and the human cost of progress.
The Best Book by a Pop Culture Feminist Icon
The slow trickle of passages and information coming from Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl all make it sound beautifully written and sensitively agonised over! But enough with the twenty-somethings’ ennui! Give us the been there-done that- and dont-give-a-damn energy of Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please instead. There’s only one book that can possibly displace Bossypants from our reading shelf, and it’s this one.
The Best Thriller
There’s a new Jack Reacher, and a new Harry Bosch, but really it’s a no contest. We’ve been mildly obsessed by every single one of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, and this one may just be the best yet- encompassing as it does our two favourite literary tropes, working class detectives and cruel teenage girl cliques. If you haven’t read Tana French start with Into the Woods, otherwise dive right into The Secret Place!
The Best Young Adult
Sorry Sam Vimes. But our heart belongs to Moist von Lipwig, the enterprising young man from Ankh Morpok who has already sorted their postal and banking system. In Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam, he takes on the railways and we can’t wait to chugga chugga choo choo along for a ride. All we ever ask for is that Pratchett remains healthy and keeps sending a wonderful book our way every year for ever and ever more. And even if that may not be, it’s not going to stop us from celebrating and enjoying the ones that do release, and this one promises to be a cracker!
The Best Non Fiction
It is a truth universally acknowledged that girls who get their literary cues from Austen cannot abide by non-fiction. They may download the worthy tomes onto their Kindles but can’t help asking- where’s the story ?
But this fall there are a few books that sound fascinating and worth an excursion into, err, the dark side.
Walter Isaascon is always reliably thorough and good, and his book The Innovators about the early days of the tech industry had us at Ada Lovelace. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal : Medicine & What Matters In The End has also hit the stands – we’ve mentioned before how good Better was.
But the two non-fiction masterpieces we really really can’t wait to read are Anne Helen Petersen’s Scandals of Classic Hollywood, and Rachel Dwyer’s “Picture Abhi Baaki Hai: Bollywood as a Guide to Modern India“. Somewhere between gossip and conjecture and reportage and real life lies the sweet spot where we are happiest, and both of these books promise to fit right in!
Have fun this Diwali, and don’t forget to tell us which books you plan to read!
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